In 2017, I had the wonderful opportunity to shoot a Papa John’s Pizza commercial as a principal actor, in which I passed along a steaming hot pizza to the Carolina Panthers NFL team mascot, Sir Purr. It originally aired in the Fall of 2018 in the Carolinas and has been renewed for a second year.
After the founders remarks about declining pizza sales due to the NFL players ‘kneeing’ protest against police shootings of unarmed black men, along with his racist remarks during a diversity training session, I’ve come to feel ashamed to represent the brand. I also wasn’t asked permission for the commercial renewal. That’s not really how it works in the industry either. As an actor, you just receive a check or hear from a friend that they saw you on TV. There’s not really a lot of power given to actors. Not to mention, we shot the commercial well before the comments from its founder.
I really appreciate the commercial renewals and income I’ve received from the brand. I just can’t imagine saying, ‘No’ to being able to do something that I love and get paid for it. How lucky am I? Hopefully, the struggle that I face with not being able to take a stand against something I disagree with would provide insight to what I’m sure many actors face. Accepting a paycheck or declining money to stand for justice. To fellow actors, there may be a time when something like this may surface in your career but I trust that whatever decision you make, (if there is room for decision-making) you wholeheartedly can live with it, having been confident in one’s own beliefs.
On a lighter note, I’ve seen the most recent commercials with Shaq, so I am hopeful that the brand is taking a turn for the better.